Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Vivek Gupta
Pro-Trump protesters stormed the United States (US) Capitol in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, 6 January, in scenes that were broadcast live on multiple news channels across the world.
Members of both Houses of the US Congress were meeting to conduct the vote certifying the Electoral College victory of Joe Biden in the US presidential election. Both Houses had to be evacuated, before the Senate reconvened later.
Several hours after the crisis began, the Capitol Police finally managed to clear the mob from the building after 5:30 pm (EST), with the Capitol’s Sergeant-at-Arms confirming the building was secure, according to CNN.
The incident led to the death of four people, including one woman succumbing to a gunshot wound. Several reports suggested people being hospitaised with tear gas injuries, baton marks and multiple fractures.
The event has also triggered a slew of resignations from the White House.
Protesters Take Over Capitol Corridors, Including Senate Chamber: How It Unfolded
Shocking visuals emerged from the Capitol.
According to CNN, Vice President Mike Pence was evacuated from the Capitol. Pence’s role, during the certification process, was to count the electoral votes.
Visuals showed Trump supporters marching through the halls and corridors of the Capitol, including the Statuary Hall. Images of them seated in the Speaker’s chair inside the US Senate chamber also surfaced.
Citing a source familiar with the situation, CNN reported that the US Capitol Police asked for additional law enforcement for assistance, including federal authorities.
BBC further reported that the police had to draw guns in the Capitol, including the chamber of the House of Representatives, to protect lawmakers. Lawmakers were moved to undisclosed locations for their protection, as protesters attempted to get into not just the chambers but offices as well.
According to multiple sources, several officers were injured with at least one taken to the hospital. One person was shot by a law enforcement officer, according to NBC News, and was taken to hospital. She was later pronounced dead.
According to reports, Congressional leaders were evacuated from the Capitol complex and were taken to Fort McNair, a nearby army base.
There was an increased attempt by the US law enforcement to retake the Capitol from protesters as well. Around 5 pm (EST), the police dressed in complete riot gear slowly began to clear rioters from the Capitol.
According to reports, flash-bangs were witnessed, including smoke, allegedly a chemical irritant, emanating from the entrance of the building.
Trump later deployed the National Guard to protect the Capitol from his supporters on Wednesday afternoon, hours after the building had been stormed. This is in addition to the Secret Service and the Federal Protective Service that were already deployed at the building.
Donald Trump’s Controversial Statement
There was a growing demand for Trump to address the mob in order to curb the violence prior to his statement, while he, in his statement, once again baselessly alleged election fraud.
Urging Trump to make a statement, President-elect Joe Biden called the events “an insurrection, not a protest” and asked Trump to "step up", adding his words had amounted to incitement.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also issued a joint statement in which they said: “We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protesters leave the US Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately.”
Following calls for him to put out a statement and tell the protesters to leave, Trump belatedly released a taped statement in which he continued to allege fraud and say that the election had been “stolen” from him but also asked the protesters to “go home in peace”. However, he also said that he “loves” the protesters.
The statement was consequently taken down by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Twitter also locked Trump's account for 12 hours.
The removal comes amid calls by the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP for Trump’s social media accounts to be suspended outright.
In an initial tweet, Trump failed to address the situation and said:
“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you![sic]”
Washington DC To Be Under Curfew
With protesters showing no sign of dissipating, claiming their goal was to occupy the Capitol through the night, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew starting at 6 pm to 6 am (EST).
Bowser later extended the public Emergency for a period of 15 days, that ends a day after Biden’s swearing-in, scheduled for 20 January.
Senators Reconvene at the US Capitol Building
After the Capitol was secured, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that leaders of Congress had decided to resume the joint session on Wednesday night to certify President-elect Joe Biden's win.
“In consultation with Leader Hoyer and Whip Clyburn and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use. Leader Hoyer will be sending out more guidance later today,” she said.
In the last few hours, Senators from both sides of the aisle exited their secure location and returned to the Capitol building to reconvene.
According to CNN, the House resumed its debate on the objection to Arizona's electoral votes for Biden. Republicans were debating the objection before rioters stormed the US Capitol and prompted the proceedings to halt.
Vice President Mike Pence also returned to the Senate.
“We will not bow to lawlessness, or intimidation. We are back at our posts, we will discharge our duty under the Constitution, and for our nation. And we are going to do it, tonight,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, as he took to the podium once again.
“Make no mistake my friends, today’s events did not happen spontaneously,” said Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer. “This President bears a great deal of the blame. This mob was in good part President Trump’s doing... his responsibility, his everlasting shame. Today’s events, certainly, certainly would have not happened without him,” he added.
"Now 6 January will go down as one of the darkest days of recent American history, a final warning to our nation about the consequences of a demagogic president," Schumer said.
When the Congress met again after the House Chamber was cleaned up following the attacks, objections to three states failed as none of the Senators would sign on.
The US Congress then voted to reject Republican lawmakers' objection to Biden's victory over sitting President Donald Trump in the state of Arizona.
The objection was overturned by the Senate in an overwhelming vote of 93 to 6 late Wednesday night.
The reconvened joint session adjourned early Thursday when objections were raised by a Senator and a House of Representatives member to the ballots from Pennsylvania.
Without extended discussions, the Senate quickly disposed of the objection with 92 votes against and only seven in favour.